For Immediate Release
MADIGAN AND SOUTHERN ILLINOIS CHEMICAL PLANT REACH AGREEMENT OVER ALLEGED RELEASES THAT FORCED EVACUATIONS IN 2003
Chicago ─ Attorney General Lisa Madigan today announced that Honeywell International, Inc., has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $90,000 and continue to follow stringent safety measures it implemented to resolve a lawsuit filed by Madigan’s office after two uncontrolled chemical releases in late 2003 that, in part, halted production and prompted evacuation at its Massac County facility.
Honeywell converts uranium ore to uranium hexafluoride at the plant on Route 45 North, in Metropolis. The hexafluoride is used in manufacturing nuclear reactor fuel for military and industrial electric utilities.
According to the agreement filed Tuesday, June 27, in Massac County Circuit Court, Honeywell has implemented measures to help prevent future uncontrolled releases of chemicals used or manufactured at the plant.
In September 2003, an alleged operator error along with other factors caused the release of a chemical that sent a plume of hydrogen fluoride (HF) into the air after it mixed with moisture outside of the plant. The public health threat posed by HF resulted in the evacuation of non-emergency personnel and the interruption of some plant operations. In December 2003, an uncontrolled release of uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6) and the alleged formation and release of HF gas took place, sending one person to the hospital for observation and others for evaluation for alleged exposure to HF. Persons living near the plant were evacuated and Route 45 was closed down for a time.
The agreement also resolves allegations contained in Madigan’s December 2004 complaint that Honeywell violated environmental law when a faulty gas meter failed to properly monitor and record natural gas burned during operations. Additionally, the settlement resolves allegations of pollution, land use and hazardous waste determination violations stemming from an August 2000 IEPA inspection that found potentially hazardous waste sand being handled as general refuse and buried at Honeywell’s on-site landfill.Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Bonkowski handled the case for Madigan’s Environmental Bureau.